Mathew Ramirez.jpg

COS' Mathew Ramirez performs during a recent game. 

Renato Bustamante has lofty goals for the College of the Sequoias men's soccer team.

In his first full season as Sequoias' head coach, Bustamante is out to lead the Giants to their first 10-win season in the program's 15-year history.

But that's not all.

Bustamante wants to make the Northern California Regional playoffs field, reach the state final four and capture a California Community College championship, all while realizing that is a tall task for a program that has averaged 4.5 wins through its first 13 complete seasons. 

"We have a hungry team that is looking to make history at COS," Bustamante said. "Some of our goals are quite difficult. But we're striving to do what the program has never done before. We're going to shoot for it one step at a time. Getting 10 wins would be a huge accomplishment. It's not going to be easy. We're going to have to earn it. But we're hungry for it, and we will give it our best shot."

Sequoias is off to a 1-2-2 start heading into a nonconference game at 6:30 p.m. Sept.14 against Cabrillo in Aptos.

The Giants return 17 players from a team that went 3-2-1 during the month-long "Covid season" that marked Bustamante's coaching debut last March. Sequoias was one of a few colleges around the state that brought back men's soccer after the typical fall season was canceled because of safety precautions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It was invaluable to have that Covid season," Bustamante said. "It allowed me to establish a culture with a core group of players who, once we got into the summer, were already on the same page and welcoming the new guys. I'm very thankful we got to play that spring season."

Bustamante has a core of experienced community college players, including midfielders Alejandro Saldana (El Diamante High), Rogelio Bedolla-Ponce (Porterville), Cristopher Romo (Tulare Union), who all played for Sequoias in 2019, and Carlos Siliezar (Redwood), who first played at Sequoias in 2017. 

The Giants also feature a pair of transfers in strikers Sebastian Caballero (Golden West), who was a member for Fresno City's state championship-winning team in 2019, and Osvaldo Ibarra (Strathmore), who played at Taft in 2019.

Midfielder Salvador Chavez (Redwood), whom Bustamante described as a local Sunday league legend, also brings experience to the Giants.

Others returning from the "Covid season" include: striker Abraham Cardenas (Porterville), midfielder Tomas Alvarez (Reedley), defender Jose Herrera (Tulare Union), midfielder Christian Padilla (Golden West), striker Marques Carrillo (Golden West), defender Mathew Ramirez (Lemoore), defender Julian Estrada (Mt. Whitney), defender Moises Cortes (Tulare Union), striker Christian Santillan (Porterville), defender Diego Alvarado (Mission Oak), striker Dominic Ayala (Hanford) and defender Brian Perez (Redwood).

Striker Christian Trujillo (Golden West), striker Jorge Quintero (Lindsay), defender Adrian Lopez (Mt. Whitney) and goalkeeper Yuliandg Chu (IMG-Visalia) are expected to be impactful incoming freshmen.

The rest of Bustamante's recruiting class features goalkeeper Zachary Ramirez (Orange Cove), goalkeeper Rex Figallo (Redwood), defender Reid Terry (Redwood), midfielder Fabio Melgar (Monache), defender Carlos Lopez (El Diamante), defender Gabriel Cruz (El Diamante), defender Isaiah Borjon (Mission Oak) and striker Alejandro Ramos (Monache).

"I think we have some skillful talent. Some fast players," Bustamante said. "If we can get on the same page and trust each other, we can score some goals. We also have some savvy and experienced midfielders. As the season progresses, they will really show how good they are. And our defenders are hungry. They are prideful. They don't want to allow any goals. They are on a mission to make it difficult for other teams to score goals."

Sequoias started the season with a pair of ties — 0-0 against Bakersfield on Aug. 27, and 1-1 at Allan Hancock on Aug. 31.

The Giants then lost 4-2 at Canyons on Sept. 7, beat L.A. Mission 2-1 on Sept. 10, and lost 2-0 at Cosumnes River on Sept. 14.

Sequoias' next home match is set for 3:30 p.m. Sept. 24 against Monterey Peninsula. 

The Giants open Central Valley Conference play at 4 p.m. Oct. 1 at Fresno City.

"I'm excited to watch them perform and grow and really represent our community," Bustamante said. "I know how much pride they have in the program. They are going to leave it all on the field every match."

 

 

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